Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake Recipe

This is one of my favorite cakes of the past ten years. A rustic, incredibly moist, golden-crumbed loaf cake, flecked with rosemary, and dotted throughout with big and small chocolate chunks, it's one of those cakes that is both distinctive and memorable in an understated way, and a breeze to make. We have Kim Boyce to thank for the recipe, and you might remember it from when I originally posted it here after Kim released Good to the Grain back in 2010. I made this beauty over the weekend so that I could send a few thick slices along with Wayne on his flight to Tokyo. :)

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Olive Oil Cake Recipe

The rosemary is the wild card factor here, and it permeates the cake in a subtle but steady way, not at all overpowering. Bonus points for the cake being a breeze to make - ten minutes tops to get it in the oven. Perfect when you're trying to pull things together for a trip.

I made a few minor tweaks to Kim's original recipe, and you can see them integrated into the recipe below - most are stylistic more than anything. And I converted the recipe to weights for some of you. I wanted to bake it in a vintage baton cake pan I found in Portland a few years ago (my $1 pan!), and aside from a slightly longer baking time, that was no problem. I also decided I wanted more chocolate visible on top, and a bit of a sugary top crust.

Olive Oil Cake Recipe

It's one of those perfect picnic, travel, or lunchbox cakes. I can't believe it has been six years since I originally highlighted it here, but I love that it is still part of my repertoire. Xo Kim & congrats on the much deserved James Beard Award nomination! xx -h

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

As Kim notes,you don't need to use a specialty olive oil for this cake. But if you have one with a lot of flavor, the cake will be that much better. This is one of those recipes where I think using regular sugar is the way to go. There was plenty going on with the interplay between the rosemary, chocolate, and olive oil - and I'm not sure adding less refined brown or Muscovado sugar would have been the way to go. The last note I'll make is to suggest chopping up a chocolate bar for this. It's just not going to be the same if you use uniform chocolate chips. Aim for big chunks 1/2-inch in diameter, you'll end up with all sorts of shavings and littler pieces as you are chopping, and having that mix of flecks and the big chunks is pretty great.

Olive oil for the pan

Dry ingredients:
3/4 cup / 3 oz / 80g spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups / 7.5 oz / 210 g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup / 240 ml olive oil
3/4 cup / 180 ml whole milk

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 ounces / 140 g bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar for top crunch

Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. Rub a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) fluted tart pan, or equivalent, with olive oil (and/or line with parchment paper).

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring any bits of grain or other ingredients left in the sifter back into the bowl. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing just until combined. Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and run a fork along the length of the chocolate so that the batter envelops it just a bit. Sprinkle with the second sugar.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. My cake, in the alternate pan, took closer to 50 minutes. Also, just when my cake was nearly finished baking, I decided I wanted a bit more color on top. I finished it under the broiler for a minute - which caramelized the sugar on top as well and gave it a bit of crunch. Don't walk away from the cake while it is under the broiler.

The cake can be eaten warm or cool from the pan, or cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic, and kept for 2 days.

Serves 8 -12.

Recipe adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.

Prep time: 15 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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  • This looks great! I was looking for something to bake tomorrow and had not come across anything inspiring until this!!! It is printing out as I write! Thank you! Sarah

    Sarah
  • Mmm. Olive oil. This must taste awesome, with a good quality, flavourful olive oil. Thanks for the recipe! :) Wei-Wei

    Wei-Wei
  • what a beatiful recipe!!! I find the combination between chocolate and rosemary so unusual but at the same time so interesting...i want to try this cake as soon as is possible...i want absolutely taste this joining...congratulations also for your vintage cake pan...;-)

    saretta
  • I recently made a potato rosemary flatbread that this reminds me of - I love that it is a loaf though! Looks great!

    Simply Life
  • Ohhhh this looks sooo good! I love baking with olive oil! I've made some fantastic bread using olive oil that it's so smooth it almost melts in your mouth.

    Chocolate Freckles
  • Aceite, romero, chocolate... excelente combinación de productos. Buena semana

    Curra
  • What a unique cake! Very curious to know what the rosemary & chocolate combo will taste like. And I've been sold on olive oil in baking for some time now..

    Marisa
  • I have made this cake too and really enjoyed it - I thought it was at it's best a couple of days after it was made - the flavours really seemed to meld together so beautifully - I like too, how you have used a loaf type tin..... HS: Thanks Kate, I'll have to make another one at age it a day or two. I can imagine it being pretty great that way, particularly if you under bake it by just a hair to keep things extra moist.

    KateP
  • I always enjoy your blog but this is the first time I comment here. I just recently start learning what a blog is. I can relate to you about having a lot of cook books but end up just looking at them instead of trying them. I love the origin of your blog. Please keep great postings coming. I love to try this recipe since I love rosemarry and chocolate. I cannot imagine how it would taste so I should bake one myself right?

    Ai
  • Wow! What a unique recipe. I adore rosemary...and chocolate....and can't wait to try this! Thank you so much. By the way, I'm loving your blog, especially your photography. Wonderful....

    Mom2my10
  • Thank you for putting the measurments in many forms! Giving us grams helps me to convert to gluten free! I learned from Gluten Free Girl to convert flours based on weight, rather than volume. This cake sounds delish! I think I may have to make it for our annual family trip to San Juan Island for Memorial Weekend coming up!

    Jenny
  • Heidi, where do you get your spelt flour? I live in the East Bay and looked for it at Berkeley Bowl but they didn't have it, which surprises me since they seem to have just about everything. I was going to use it to make the turnip greens tart but now I have two recipes I need it for! (And if I can't find it, is there another type of flour I can substitute?) HS: Nina, the last time I bought a big bag of it at Rainbow Grocery, but Whole Foods sometimes carries it as well I believe. I think you could substitute whole wheat pastry flour flour in both of these recipes with no problem. Or maybe rye flour, or a multigrain flour mix w/ the tart.

    Nina
  • I've been seeing many bread and cake recipes that call for olive oil in place of butter or other fats, but I'm completely intrigued with this one. I would of never thought to add rosemary along with chocolate. This is a beautiful and rustic dessert.

    Christine @ Fresh Local and Best
  • I just bought Kim's book and love it! I'll try this recipe soon - it sounds very good. P.S. love the bread pan

    Megan
  • That sounds like the literary/culinary event of the year!

    Danielle
  • something so wonderful about more savory cakes combined with sweet ingredients. hearty and yet dainty at the same time!

    Lizzie
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